Wonders in the Heavens: Before the Great and terrible Day of the Lord
What are the ‘wonders in the heavens,’ the Bible refers to in the last days? In the Book of Joel, we are told the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the Lord returns.
Has this already happened? Was the blood moon craziness the fulfillment of this prophecy? Many suggest that is exactly true. I call rubbish on that. What the Bible referred to as wonders in the heavens is still in our future. It’s more than a series of eclipses.
Let’s take a close look at the what the Bible says before settling for the opinions of the YouTube prophets.
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.”
The prophet alerts the leaders that an alarm should be sounded. Everyone should know that real trouble is coming. Remember context when studying the Bible. Chapter one was about a real attack from locusts. This chapter compares the locusts to a soon approaching army. The day of the Lord had a near and far application. We see this quite often in scriptures. In this chapter, we will see this a lot.
“A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.”
The timing of this prophecy is about 800 B.C. The Assyrians had attacked from the north but the growing threat was Babylon. This prophecy references that eventual take-over by the Babylonians. When we consider short-term and long-term prophecy we have to consider what the prophet is really saying. In this verse, he says this army will be like none ever before or after it. The Babylonian attack was worse than ever before but the prophet also looks prophetically to the distant future. There will be a final attack on the Jewish people that will be far worse than anything it will ever encounter. That will be an attack that culminates in the famous battle of Armageddon.
“A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burneth, the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.”
The army of Babylon will devastate everything and every nation in its path. When it reaches its zenith of power it will rule over the entire Middle East, but not the whole world. The prophet Daniel saw a vision of a statue in which four great empires would rule over the world of the Middle East. The last of those four will fall in the last days. In this chapter, Joel gives us a glimpse of the final assault and demise of that last empire in Daniel’s vision.
“The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so shall they run.”
This imagery that Joel uses is copied in other prophetic passages. We see similar imagery in Zechariah and the Book of Revelation. It is an image of a fast moving army. It doesn’t mean that the very last war has to be fought by soldiers on horseback. Many prophetic scholars have tried to argue this fact but it’s not needed. The imagery of war is what the prophet is detailing. A fast-moving army will attack Judah. In the last days, an even faster army will send in the final attack. We can envision drones, missiles, and tanks but there is no need for them to be on horseback.
“Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.”
This verse applies similar hyperbole. The chariots didn’t really leap across the tops of mountains. Their speed was terrifying in comparison to what the defense could muster against them. The same will apply at the end of the age. Israel will mount a valiant defensive effort but the strength of the forces that come against them will be overwhelming.
“Before their face, the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.”
The face of despair will be on everyone. Soot from the ashes of fire will settle upon the faces of the citizens of Judah and Zion.
“They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war, and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:”
Jerusalem was a walled city. From the time of David and beyond, its walls and soldiers stood firm against many attacks. The walls will not stop the attack of the armies of Babylon. The defensive positions and military might in these last days won’t be enough either. Sad days are in the future for a proud nation. One more time Israel will face near annihilation. It’s prophesied.
“Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk everyone in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.”
This passage presents the image of an invincible force. They aren’t invincible but will appear that way as they approach the walls of Jerusalem.
“they shall run to a fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.”
There is no defense against them. There is nowhere to hide. Hide under the bed if you must but the attackers will come into every home like a thief in the middle of the night. This terror by night will be a reality for the tiny nation of Judah. They already experienced what its like when a terrorist breaks into a home and mercilessly kills sleeping families. (Jewish girl, 13, stabbed to death in bedroom)
“The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:”
This is more poetic language meant to emphasize the terrible nature of the approaching army. War has always been terrifying. Usually conquering armies would burn homes, meeting halls, and even stack corpses and burn their remains. From miles away, the vision of darkened skies was seen. This is a classic image of war. We make a mistake by assuming this is only a reference to an eclipse of the moon or the sun. It’s an image of terror and burning that armies always leave upon a defeated people.
“And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executes his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
This is an interesting point the prophet of the Lord makes. God Almighty uses Judah’s enemies as his hand of judgment. He even calls it “his army.” God will use them, then turn and punish the heathen army afterward.
“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:”
It’s never too late to repent. Could Hitler have received mercy, or Stalin, Mao, or any other well-known killer? It’s an interesting thought. The Bible does make clear that people can reach a point of no return. People can get so hard and sinful they are lost to all hope. God makes that call though, not any of us. The opposite message is also clearly taught in scripture. At any time, if a person should so choose, repentance is the right choice. God offers his hand of mercy to any who would come to Him in repentance.
“And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil.”
Repentance must be sincere, not just an outward display of religious ceremony. Tearing away the garment was such a ceremonial practice that was common among the Jewish people. It often wasn’t the result of real repentance but only a show. God knows the difference.
“Who knows if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God?”
Never underestimate the mercy of God. There is no sin so great that the mercy of God isn’t greater. Christ died for the wickedness of man, not his goodness. The entire story of God is about the effort of the Divine Being reaching down to fallen mankind and making a way for all who are willing to turn back to him. It’s such a hard choice though, only a small fraction make that tough choice.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:”
God’s prophet calls for another fast. Call everyone!
“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”
There was a fast called in chapter one. This call in chapter two is similar but includes more people. In this gathering, the children, even the infants, are called to join in on the fast. Also, Joel mentions the newly wedded couples. Nothing was more important than what the Lord was warning about. Get everyone’s attention, this was the resounding message of the prophet.
“Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God?”
The religious leaders were asked to stand in front of the House of God and show a genuine repentance and call to everyone. The pride of position and power often caused religious leaders to lose their concern for the people. The same is true throughout history. Leaders rarely care for the people they lead, they take advantage of them. God takes notice and will apply the greater punishment upon those who lead, especially those who don’t have a genuine concern for those under their care.
“Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.”
The Lord never has and never will lose sight of His land and people. Israel is God’s possession. The position of the Palestinians today is ridiculous when we consider what God says about the land. They can argue all they want, but God has the final say. In the end, He will reclaim His land from all who oppose Him. It’s a done deal.
“Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:”
This verse is a future prophesy. It has never been fulfilled. God’s promises never miss the mark, so this is something that will develop in the future of Israel. Today, the Jewish people are in their land again, partially, but they are still a reproach among many heathen nations. After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews did return to their land but continued to fight off enemies. They eventually lost possession of the land again when the Romans, destroyed their nation and spread the Jews into many lands.
Once more they will face a devastating attack by surrounding armies. It will be worse than ever and they will face defeat. God will rescue them and fulfill this prophecy in the later days.
“But I will remove far off from you the northern army and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he has done great things.”
This was partially fulfilled when the Babylonians were removed from control over the land of Israel. At the end of days, God knows when that is, we don’t, the last enemy of Israel will face a crushing defeat. That is the battle of Armageddon.
“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.”
God will have the last say. Though the Babylonians did ‘great things,’ and defeated the Jews, the Lord will do the greatest things in the last days and stun the world. The world will face a mind-numbing display of war and terror in the end of days. It will appear there is no end, all hope will be lost, and yet, God will enter the fray and set things right.
“Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree bears her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.”
Even the animals in the fields have suffered at the hands of mankind. The entire world will return to a “Garden of Eden” type of peaceful existence.
“Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he has given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first.”
Israel has historically been an agricultural society. It has been very dependant on God to bring the rain in due season. Often, as a means of judgment, the Lord would hold back the necessary rain. Here the prophet promises that God will restore the cycle of abundant rainfall.
“And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.”
The prophet refers to the ‘floors’ where the farmers would spread out the abundant wheat crops after the harvest. God promises to restore that. We can look at Israel today and believe this has already seen a fulfillment, but I believe that is a mistake. God is not done with Israel’s judgment. They are still in rebellion, so they will face a final attack from their enemies. It will be so severe they will finally, in despair, turn to God in a sincere repentance.
“And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”
This harkened back to the devastation on their crops by the locusts. The Babylonian army was compared to it but was must worse. God promised that every devastation they suffered would see an equal and greater restoration. One more restoration will follow.
“And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that has dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.”
This is future. We will see this fulfilled in the time known as the Mellinium. This will be a one-thousand-year period of peace on earth. It’s not a mythical prophecy but an actual time still in our future. So, this serves as a counter-argument to those who insist that prophecy is all about doom and gloom. The true prophet of God understands that the Lord intends to bring lasting peace, not doom and gloom. God will restore what mankind has ruined. That is our true future, a lasting peace.
“And you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.”
At that time, when the Lord brings lasting peace, we will all know that God truly stands with Israel. It won’t be because they are better than other races of people. It has nothing to do with that. It’s God Almighty, fulfilling his word despite the blatant rebellion of the Jewish nation.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:”
The timing of this passage forces us to rethink a common claim in today’s prophecy literature. This verse is often used to support the claim of the outpouring of the Spirit of God in the last days. It is often taught there will be a huge return to God in the last days and many will become prophets and prophetesses. This supposed revival will sweep across the nations and turn the world back to God.
Sorry, but the context doesn’t support that teaching.
I believe it probably shows something completely different. The context of the passage has led us to the point in which God restores everything to a time of peace. During that time the Spirit of God will be poured out; during that time of peace. It will come to pass afterward, after the day of the Lord, that the Spirit of God is poured out. It will be during the time of refreshing and restoration.
“And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
It won’t only affect the religious leadership but the meek and humble shall all have the Spirit of God poured out on them.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”
These last three verses provide a summary of what the prophet says will develop in the last days. These “wonders in the heavens” speak of two realities. The devastation of war will be real and severe. And The heavens themselves will be shaken in the final judgment.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.”
This verse is very important in any last days scenario. The prophet did use poetic imagery in referring to the terrors of war, but there will be actual signs and terrors that affect the sun, moon, and stars in the final days of judgment. Jesus referred to these signs in his discourse on the last days. He referred to this passage. The Apostle Peter also referenced this passage when he warned people about the last days. John in his Book of Revelation referred to something similar. There is an important connection here. The prophet says these signs, whatever they are will occur “before… the terrible day of the Lord.” They will serve as one of the last important reminders for the people of earth to be on alert.
I do not believe the eclipses and blood moon hysteria of the past few years was at all related to this passage. When these signs in the heavens occur, the entire world will be on notice, not just a few YouTube preachers and their followers.
There will be signs of war that darken the sun, moon, and stars, but additional signs will appear that will be much more significant than a mere darkening of the skies from smoke and burning cities or even a series of eclipses.
We will know, We will be warned.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”
When the Apostle Peter used these verses this was the key point in his famous passage. It’s time to get saved, people! There was a darkening of the sun when Jesus died on the cross. For three long hours, the sun didn’t give its light. Whatever that was, it was something much different than an eclipse. Eclipses don’t darken the sun for three hours. Historians wrote about that mysterious darkness, so it was something that grabbed the attention of many, not just the biblical authors.
Peter warned the people of his day to call upon the name of the Lord. When the final warning comes and the sun and moon are darkened in the last days, the same warning will apply. Call upon the Lord for anyone who does will be saved. Those who don’t– won’t.